Sticking to Chinese restaurants in Suzhou saves you the disappointment (as well as some kuais!)
What a weekend!! I’ve been doing everything but surfing the net, just the way it should be (don’t get me wrong, I love blogging and writing but I tend to spend too much time in front of my computer every day already, so when I can get away from it during the weekends I see it as a good thing!).
Friday’s brunch was outstanding. Everyone drank too much except for me. I ate too much. Oh well. No one (including me) was surprised.
I rarely eat at western restaurants here in Suzhou, mainly because I don’t think there are any good ones in (I prefer to make my own western food if I get cravings). This weekend, however, we made an exception and went to a restaurant at Suzhou’s rainbow walk. One of the reasons why I don’t like most of the western restaurants here in Suzhou is because the service is normally quite poor. When the staff at a western restaurant sees that you are a laowai, they refuse to speak Chinese with you and as a result… everything goes wrong, wrong, wrong.
Another reason why I don’t like western restaurants here is because they are quite often extremely overpriced! For the money you pay at a western restaurant here in Suzhou you can eat five times at a Chinese one. Worth thinking about.
Anyways. Our weekend-dining-experience was yet another reminder why we should continue cooking our own food. I ordered an apple pie (45 yuan -one of those ready-made pies that come straight form the freezer) that came with a tiny bit of cream. I don’t like cream, so I asked for some vanilla ice cream instead.
-You want to order some extra ice cream? Asked the waitress.
-Yes please. Some vanilla ice cream please.
-OK no problem!
Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Twenty minutes (!) went by and I asked about my ice cream twice.
-Oh, they are making it! Said the waitress.
Sure they are. Making vanilla ice cream from scratch. I don't think so.
Finally on waiter appeared, carrying a plate with one single scoop of strawberry ice cream.
-Eh… I ordered vanilla! I said, slightly annoyed.
-Oh I am so sorry! He said.
Another five minutes went by. Then another waiter came with the SAME plate of (slightly melted) strawberry ice cream and put it on our table.
-Here’s your ice cream!
-But… like.. what the… I’ve already sent this back. I ordered vanilla ice cream.
-Oh!! I am so sorry!
Ten minutes later the single scoop of icy and lumpy vanilla ice cream came (15 yuan). By then, our pie had gone very cold. And the whole experience wasn’t that great anymore.
Like I said, no point eating out when it only makes you annoyed.
(we had to wait another 30 minutes for the bill too but that’s another story).
It occurred to me when I sat there that it’s actually not the staff’s fault. They obviously didn’t know the difference between vanilla and strawberry, because no one has trained them. Which makes me think of Starbucks in China… I don’t know about the staff’s English in general, because I rarely speak to them about the weather, but one thing is for sure, they almost always get you order right. Ask them for low fat milk, extra this and none of that and you’ll get it. If they mess it up they’ll re-make your coffee, or upgrade you for free… I know they have some sort of Starbuck’s manual/training program that they have to go through before they start working there, and I wonder why more western restaurants aren’t going for the same thing? Is it because of the owner’s lack of China experience, or is it because of plain laziness? Because seriously, they cannot honestly believe that adding an extra amount of 10 staff that don’t know the difference between vanilla and strawberry are going to make things better, can they? Or maybe they can.
Cheaper and tastier!